Bowden Agrees to Separation Agreement with Sarasota Schools

Todays News


Sarasota County Superintendent of Schools Todd Bowden reached a deal to step down as leader of the school district. Bowden announced Monday he had been presented with and accepted a “mutual separation agreement.” The Sarasota County School Board will vote on the deal at a Nov. 19 meeting .

“For three years I have had the privilege of serving Sarasota County schools as superintendent. I have witnessed excellence among our teachers, dedication between our principals, care from our staff and innovative approaches to learning by our administrators,” Bowden said. “Because of their efforts, our students have excelled academically and are well-positioned to become caring and informed citizens of the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve so many, and I hope the next superintendent will further propel this outstanding school district to excel even more.”

But the tenure has also been rocky. From the start, Bowden was dogged by accusations of sexual harassment. As the School Board remained locked in a 3-2 divide over the quality of Bowden’s leadership, the majority approved a a contract for Bowden through 2023 that required a 4-1 vote to fire him.

Critics said that seemed too high a threshold to reach, but it seemed more likely to happen in recent weeks. Allegations against Jeff Maultsby, Bowden’s Assistant Superintendent of Schools, led to the high-ranking administrator’s termination last month, and a report indicated Bowden failed to properly address complaints early.

Two School Board members—Eric Robinson and Bridget Ziegler—have consistently assessed Bowden poorly. Shirley Brown, who voted against hiring Bowden but supported his contract extension, publicly announced the superintendent should step down.

Tuesday evening, the Sarasota Democratic Party and Republican Party of Sarasota County issued a rare joint statement calling for Bowden’s removal. “Following the mishandling of a sexual harassment complaint against the district’s chief operating officer and a scathing report by an outside investigator, Bowden has lost the support of a majority of the School Board, the teachers’ union and the broader community,” the statement reads. “This poor leadership risks destroying the trust that was built by previous Superintendents.”

The separation agreement as written would immediately put Bowden on paid administrative leave, but he would remain on the payroll through the end of 2019. An acting superintendent would be appointed to take over all of Bowden’s responsibilities and Bowden would only be required to be available in an advisory capacity to the new district schools chief.

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan: Todd Bowden at the Sarasota County School Board chambers.

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